The counter-cyclic anxiety indicator: Last winter I overheard a pharmacist apologize to a customer that the store had run out of Clonazepam, the generic form of the Roche drug Klonopin. "You're going to have to come back tomorrow," the pharmacist said. "This has been flying off the shelves lately like it's candy."
In a broader example, Pfizer (Stock Quote: PFE) reported that, while year-on-year revenue was flat from 2007 to 2008, revenue for nerve-calming drug Xanax rose from $316 million in 2006 to $325 million in 2007 and then to $350 million last year.
The pro-cyclic indicator of whether hotcakes are selling like hotcakes: You know the economy's hurting when a restaurant recommends that Americans who can't afford to fly to Hawaii this summer take a "pancation" instead, which is what IHOP did in June. "Save on the expensive plane trip and hotel fares this summer and instead enjoy the ultimate indulgent 'staycation,' " a company press release read, going on to suggest that potential customers "grab a Hawaiian shirt or grass skirt" and head to IHOP to try its new tropically themed banana macadamia nut pancakes. This followed the January announcement of IHOP's "Hungry Consumer Bailout Plan," an all-you-can-eat pancake deal starting at $4.99.
In July, DineEquity (Stock Quote: DIN), the parent company of IHOP, reported a decrease in domestic same-store sales. In an earnings call, company Chief Executive Julia Stewart blamed "the difficult macroeconomic environment."
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